Very interesting post over at Sexy Archaeology.
As the paper explains, however, the huarango was more than just a tree – it was a crucial part of the desert’s fragile ecosystem, which enhanced soil fertility and moisture and helped to hold the Nasca’s narrow, vulnerable irrigation channels in place.If only the Nasca had a Lorax around to speak for the trees.
Eventually, they cut down so many trees that they reached a tipping point at which the arid ecosystem was irreversibly damaged. The authors do not dispute that a major, El Niño-style event then occurred – finding hard evidence for this for the first time. But they also find that the impact of this flood would have been far less devastating had the forests which protected the delicate desert ecology still been there.